What Happened When I was Injured Abroad

Okay, I’m almost done with Kruger National Park and our safaris posts and thought this might be the time to switch it up and talk about something else that happened to me on our trip.

As some of you might know, we did a stopover on our way home from South Africa.  We spent a week in Copenhagen and other parts of Denmark.  With our Club Carlson points we booked a 3 night stay at the Radisson Bleu Royal Hotel, a block from the Central Train Station, in Copenhagen  I’l report of the hotel later.

Anyway, on our last night before we headed into another part of Denmark, I went in the bathroom to take a shower.  We had  been touring Copenhagen all day, walked ten thousand miles or steps (which is greater), and packed our clothes to get ready to go on a 8:00 AM train to Odense.  I was feeling icky and tired.  The tubs at the Radissons we went to in Denmark are retrofitted so you can shower in them and they are also very tall tubs.  The shower controls are on the side of the tub with the portable shower head along the side as well.  The tub had a swinging door on half on the tub at the end where the shower head would be.  Yes, a swinging door!

When I had taken a shower the night before I noticed the tub was a little slippery so I laid a bunch of towels on the bathroom floor to give myself a little traction.  Can you imagine what happened yet?  Yup, you are correct but stay with me and follow along.


I got in the shower, bent down to adjust the water temperature and before you could say “Be Careful” I had slipped out of the tub, the door swung open and my head hit the toilet seat where I swear I heard it crack.  Now I am laying on the bathroom floor, bucknaked, with lots of blood around me from my head wound.  Had to call to Blogger Hubby because with the water running from the shower and the television on, he couldn’t hear me.  The one thought that kept going through my mind was Natasha Richardson, the actress who was married to Liam Neeson and daughter of Vanessa Redgrave.  She fell on the bunny slopes and died form a head injury.  Initially she refused medical treatment feeling fine.  I knew head injuries could be serious so I was quite adamant that Blogger Hubby talk to the concierge and have him call the hotel doctor.

The hotel doctor hearing of my head injury and the fact that I couldn’t stop from violently shaking, referred us to a hospital.  He would call ahead to make the referral for us.  We also called our military insurance company – Tricare Overseas – to alert them in case I needed to be admitted as well as to inform Blogger Hubby if he needed to do anything.  They went over our plan and what they would cover and what they wouldn’t.

Now I had to get dressed while holding towels against the back of my head to try and stop the bleeding.  That done, we went down to the lobby and the concierge hailed a cab for us.  Fifteen minutes later we were at the hospital.


We checked in and were sent to the waiting room.  Still violently shaking and feeling sick to my stomach, I laid down on the floor – we were the only ones and I didn’t see a problem with it.  The hospital staff did.  They came in and saw me and immediately found a room for me.  I saw about 3 nurses and one “bone” doctor.   I was given a blood test to determine if there was any bleeding on the brain and there wasn’t.  Diagnosis and treatment:  I needed four stitches in the back of my head, and had whiplash from when I fell backwards.  Blogger Hubby was given signs to look for in case I needed a return to the hospital.  By the way, the violent shaking was my adrenaline kicking into action.

I would have at least one severe headache for about ten days and achy neck and shoulders from the strained muscles.  I also wasn’t allowed to get my head wet for 48 hours.  Since my hair was gross and very matted with blood, I had Blogger Hubby, when we returned to the hotel get a damp facecloth and try to pull the blood out of my hair.  His comforting remark “at least the color matches your hair”.  Thanks hubby 🙂  As we left the hospital I was given a bag of prescription medicine.  When we went to check out, we found, to our surprise, that there was no charge for the visit, the blood test, the medicine – nada.  We found our that Denmark has socialistic medicine and that they take care of tourists.  If I was a visitor from another EU country, they would have billed my country for my health care.   There is a two tier system of health care in Denmark.  I was at one of the “free hospitals” under their socialized health care system.   If we didn’t want to go there then we could have gone to the paying hospital. For my injuries, it was fine and it might be fine if my injuries were more severe .  Luckily I didn’t need to make that choice.

When we were leaving that morning (and we would return two nights later) we asked to fill out an accident report.  They didn’t have a form so I wrote out what happened.  In my opinion, the hotel didn’t do enough to protect the guests from slips in the bathtubs.  This had never happened to me before and Blogger Hubby also thought that the tub was slippery.   The tub had no bath mat or adhesive grippers on the tub bottom.  It looked like they had stenciled in the grippers because when I ran my hand over the bottom of the tub, it was extremely smooth and slick.  What I will do next time if I find a slippery tub is put a towel inside the tub to stand on.

Blogger Hubby gave my report and a copy of the hospital report to the Front Desk  manager.  As we check-out that morning the Front Desk manager came over to me and wanted to know how I was and what he could do.  We told him we were happy with the care we had received at the free hospital and there was no charge.  I did ask him if they could pay our $60 taxi fare.  He agreed and was going to give us a room credit but we had booked on points.  When we left nothing had happened but he had left me with the impression that they would reimburse me when we returned in two days.

We continued on with our journey though getting a later train to Odense. Head was very tender and I needed to find position where I could rest my head comfortably when sleeping. Eventually I washed my hair and saw pink soapsuds, was able to get the stitches out here in the United States and finally the headaches stopped. I am now going through physical therapy to help with turning my head to the left and right and it is getting better after each session.

When we checked in a few days later, nothing had been said to us about the reimbursement and we decided just to forget about it.  When we checked out the next morning we had the Front Desk Manager checking us out and he did give us the cab money.

We left immediately for the train station to go to the airport for our trip home.  It is still scary to me that an accident could happen as quickly as it did and that it could have had more serious outcome.  I now have a little fear of step in showers and would much prefer a walk-in one.  I am also always feeling the bottom surface of the shower/tub to assure myself that I won’t slip.

I was nervous when this accident happened cursing myself for not traveling with travel health insurance.  But traveling in a country with socialized medicine does make it easier on the mind if you do not buy travel health insurance.  I was very happy with the Danish health care system.  What I will reconsider is purchasing medical evacuation insurance, just in case.

Have you had an accident happen to you while traveling?  What was your experience?

1 thought on “What Happened When I was Injured Abroad

  1. Last November we arrived in London after flying business class from Newark, then taking the Tube and bus to our hotel. At the Doubletree Westminster, we had to wait about an hour for our room – husband wasn’t going anywhere until we check in and he had a nap (he doesn’t have the travel gene and doesn’t sleep well on planes even in a lie-flat seat). So we had breakfast for him and I just had coffee while waiting for our room. After a nap we went out around 2:30pm to Evensong at Westminster, walking and sightseeing, dinner, and a 2 hour Jack the Ripper tour – a reasonably full afternoon and evening. We easily feel asleep but I woke up around 2 am with a racing heartbeat. When it didn’t subside after 45 minutes, I woke my husband who was alarmed so he went to the night manager. Same as you – cabbed to local hospital emergency room (St Thomas, a National Health Service facility – famous for Florence Nightingale), got checked in – blood pressure and heart rate checked – no abnormalities noted, so proceeded to sit and wait 20-30 minutes until we were given a bed. ECGs taken, blood drawn, tests run. Lots of attention given. Once all results were in, I was cleared. Told it was probably a case of being tired and a bit too much caffeine. And here, too, there was no charge. We were grateful, happy, and relieved. May it be a “once in a lifetime” experience. However, once we go on Medicare in a year or so, we will need to explore coverage options for traveling abroad.

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